By on December 11, 2018

The recent news of the potential alliance brewing between Ford and Volkswagen seems like a novel idea. But what if I told you it was already tried long ago?

Come along, we’re taking a trip to Versailles.

Ford likes to use Versailles as a model name. It used Versailles in the 1950s in Europe, where the sedan was a rebadge of the Simca Vedette in places where Simca cars were not popular. Ford used the name again in the Malaise Era, when it brought forth the fantastic new Lincoln Versailles — based on the equally fantastic Ford Granada family sedan (which was just like a Mercedes, you know). Most recently, the Versailles lettering was applied to a Brazilian-market series of family cars which were actually Volkswagens.

The new Versailles model was a much-needed replacement for Ford’s Del Rey, which had been on offer in Brazil and surrounding markets since 1981. Much like the potential upcoming alliance, Ford produced the Del Rey domestically within Brazil, then decided to change course. In the late 1980s, amid a very poor Brazilian economy, Ford telephoned Volkswagen.

It was a marriage of convenience. Volkswagen, like Ford, already had large-scale production facilities within Brazil. The two companies decided it would be easier to cooperate via a joint venture rather than duke it out during struggling times, as both of them produced full lines for the same customer. AutoLatina was formed. VW’s Brazilian arm had a controlling interest of 51 percent, and Ford Brazil held the remaining 49 percent. The two companies would split responsibilities for product lines. Volkswagen took charge of the passenger cars, while Ford handled the trucks.

Headlining the Ford sedan offerings from AutoLatina was the Versailles.

Starting with the Volkswagen Quantum (which Americans called Passat), the Versailles four-door sedan was accompanied by the Royale model, which was a three-door wagon. The cars were ready for sale in 1992 after a bit of badge swapping and front- and rear-end modifications. The Versailles and others were sold at Brazilian Ford dealers, while Volkswagen dealers down the road carried their range of (nearly identical) Quantum offerings.

Despite the joint effort, both companies saw a loss of market share by the mid-90s. It just wasn’t going to work. 1996 would be the last model year for the Versailles and its brethren, as the AutoLatina partnership dissolved some time in 1995.

Today’s Rare Ride is located in Brazil. It’s a top trim Ghia model, with a 2.0-liter inline-four Volkswagen engine and an automatic transmission. With a little over 79,000 miles on the odometer, a heckblende, and lace alloys, the Versailles Ghia asks $4,368 USD.

[Images: seller]

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30 Comments on “Rare Rides: The Ford Versailles Ghia From 1993 – a Quantum Experiment...”

  • avatar

    Looks like a Volvo cross with a Corolla of that era. Weird name for a Brazilian car

  • avatar

    Never knew about this product of a Ford/VW alliance.

    That looks like some funky fabric on the rear seats and door cards.

  • avatar

    Mmmm, heckblende… (drool)

    (Talk about rare and obscure vocabulary!)

  • avatar

    But was it a Quantum improvement over the VW version?

    (…Golf clap…couldn’t resist one more quip)

  • avatar

    Imagine if you will, a Volvo 850 and two Eagles, Premier and Medallion, got together…..

  • avatar

    I thought it was a Lima 2.3 engine till I saw the orange plastic dipstick

  • avatar

    “Starting with the Volkswagen Quantum (which Americans called Passat)…” In fact that generation was called Quantum in the U.S., replacing the first-generation Passat (called Dasher in the U.S.). The name Passat wasn’t used in the U.S. until the succeeding generation, around 1990. I assume the same is true for all North American markets.

    • 0 avatar

      This car looks like some sort of mid-point between the US-market Quantum and the first US Passat. Styling wise, the front structure looks more like the US Passat MK1 than the Quantum, but the Quantum was still basically an Audi 80 while the first US Passats were transverse-engine configured like big Golfs. The Dasher was a 1st generation Audi 80, which was also sold in the US as the Audi Fox. The Quantum was a second generation Audi 80 mechanically, which was also sold in the US as the Audi 4000. Then VW sold a Passat here that wasn’t an Audi, followed by one that was. This Ford has the Audi layout, but doesn’t look much like our Quantum.

    • 0 avatar

      So, So right, ‘gottacook’,and yes, it looks like a threesome involving a Volvo 850, Corolla, and Quantum. So,”too sexy for my…” No, not really.

  • avatar

    The dash and front seats are (almost) straight out of a B3 passat, and the styling looks like a 90’s version of the older Quantum. But the engine is longitudinal, unlike the contemporary Passat. So we’ve got base VW quality with Audi drivetrain goofiness, a 4- or 5-pot gasser with a slushbox, topped off with a Ford badge. I don’t see a lot of win here…

  • avatar

    Speaking of Ford/VW alliances, I’d totally check out that new Skoda Scala rebadged as a Ford. Just sayin’.

  • avatar

    The Ford Verona, Orion and Escort were each rebadged as VWs, so no, not all the shared cars were VW in origin.

    • 0 avatar

      The 4th gen Euro Escort (the 1982 Escort with an aero grille), then the 5th gen which was critically panned.

      They also spawned 2 door variants which were never sold in Europe (3 doors were common though)

  • avatar

    The most interesting example of what the upcoming Ford/VW alliace could be would be the VW Sharan/Ford Galaxy/Seat Alhambra trio

  • avatar

    Love the front door vent windows – I really miss those from the old cars

  • avatar

    “Ford likes to use Versailles as a model name. It used Versailles in the 1950s in Europe, where the sedan was a rebadge of the Simca Vedette in places where Simca cars were not popular.”

    Actually, I thought Ford sold the business and the platform to Simca. I like those cars, BTW, especially the one that looks like a 3/4 scale ’49 Merc.

  • avatar

    The Passat was called the Quantum here in the US, too, for awhile. This car shares its platform with the Audi 80 (Audi 4000 here in the US), which is why it uses a longitudinally-mounted engine with FWD.

  • avatar

    Ford and VW also merged in Argentina as a subsidiary of the Brazilian holding.

    The merger made sense in the 1980s when imports were prohibited and the companies were struggling in the local market (Ford was about to leave the Brazilian market), so platform sharing was the way to go.

    The opening of the Brazilian economy in the 1990s and poor product strategy killed their business case, as people realized they didn’t have to buy old platform cars with horrendous build quality anymore.

    Just as a side note, the biggest market differentiator between the Versailles Royale and the Santana Quantum was the number of doors. The Royale was initially only sold in a 3-door configuration, whereas the Quantum was 5-door only.

  • avatar

    The instrument panel is Ford, especially the dash venton the ends that look like they’d be at home in a late ’80s Thunderbird or Taurus, while the shifter and quadrant look just like the one in my ’78 Audi Fox.

  • avatar

    My Father had one of these, a 93 model with a carburetor, which was much cheaper than the injection model. He bought it in the late 90s and drove it well into the 2000s.
    The engine belonged to the AP series developed between VW and Audi, and many Ford cars equipped them, especially the Escort. Look closely and you will realise the doors are the ones in the 1983 VW Passat.
    The car on the whole was comfortable, if kind of slow. Compared to the 1982 Cortina we had before, the Galaxy (in Argentina the Versailles name was dropped in favour of Galaxy) was so much better in every department.

    Another one-off product of that joint venture was the VW Pointer, nice little car. One of those in GTI trim could fetch 10.000 dollars in pristine condition.

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